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Iran Floods Expose Existing Tensions Between Rouhani And Military

Major general Mohammad Bagheri Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander. File photo

Devastating floods across Iran have once again exposed the rift between President Hassan Rouhani and the powerful military elite of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

The latest episode of mutual incriminations began with a clip circulated on social media showing the IRGC's Infantry Force Commander talking to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, IRGC Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri (Baqeri), on the phone.

The footage shows the Infantry commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour reporting from an unknown spot near the flood-hit town of Pol-e Dokhtar, western Iran, explicitly criticizing the government.

"People are so enraged that none of the government officials dares to visit the area," Pakpour reports to Bagheri, adding, "People are dissatisfied with the situation to the extent that they are on the verge of rioting."

Furthermore, Gen. Pakpour says that all villages near Pol-e Dokhtar in Lorestan Province are suffering from a total power outage.

Meanwhile, Gen. Pakpour proudly reports that, while the members of the Rouhani's Administration are hated in the region, the IRGC forces at the scene are welcomed and respected by the flood-hit people.

Earlier, Rouhani had indirectly heckled IRGC for its "useless" so-called "controlled explosions" in the flood-hit city of Aqqala, Golestan Province, northern Iran, to divert the flood waters away from residential areas. In the process, the IRGC engineers demolished part of a railway line connecting Iran with the Republic of Turkmenistan.

Without directly naming IRGC, Rouhani said that while flying over the scene, he clearly witnessed the uselessness of the explosions.

"The only result of the explosions was diverting the flood water from one disaster area to another," Rouhani maintained.

The explicit comments of IRGC commander Pakpour appear to be a direct response to Rouhani on the role of the military elite in relief efforts.

Retaliating to Pakpour's report, the head of the government-run National Disaster Management Organization (NDMO) said that despite the belittling remarks of Pakpour, he had personally visited the city of Pol-e Dokhtar immediately after the government rescue staff succeeded in making a breakthrough, opening up a corridor to reach the flood-hit town.

Rouhani's advisor in media affairs, Hessamoddin Ashena also joined the chorus to deplore Pakpour's comments as "scaring the people and exhilarating the enemy."

In a tweet on April 2, Ashena lamented, "Perhaps one should not expect much from the caller (Pakpour), yet I am certain that the one at the other end of the line (Bagheri) is more competent than allowing such a phone conversation to be published."

Floods have demolished tens of thousands of houses across Iran in more than two weeks, based on statements by government officials, media reports and images of the destruction.

The Iranian Meteorological Organization (IRMO) has called on Iranians to avoid traveling to the western and southwestern parts of the country as floods are likely to run across nine provinces in the area. More rain is expected on Saturday and Sunday.